Street Savvy: Virginia Avenue
Just east of I-65/70 downtown lies Indy’s most creative stretch of commerce
The Turf: Fountain Square
Reacquaint yourself with the neighborhood on May 14 during the second annual Virginia Avenue Folk Festival (1). Hosted by Square Cat Records, the free music fest features 100 bands playing at restaurants, shops, and art galleries up and down the main drag. virginiaavenuefolkfest.com
We aren’t saying they’re healthy, but at least Rocket 88 Doughnuts (2) offers options for vegans and the organic crowd—now extended to dinners on Fridays and Saturdays with sandwiches on unglazed doughnuts and rice bowls. Don’t miss the chewy, waffle-ironed Leslie Knope square that hits the case on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or be boring and grab a maple-pecan ring. 874 Virginia Ave., 737-2614, rocket88doughnuts.com
If you feel inspired by the way the French do their shopping, you’ll love to pop by Wildwood Market (3) after work to pluck fresh produce and Indiana-made foods from bushel baskets and wooden shelves. The goods are crammed into an old-—yet charming—used-car dealership. Try the Oreo-like Oh-My-Oh from Indy’s Lemon Tree Cookies. The deli counter serves a lauded lunch menu—and seems to never make the same sandwich twice. 1015 Virginia Ave., 737-2653, wildwoodmarket.com
Set back from Virginia Avenue, American Beauty (4) feels hidden in plain sight. The art gallery and antiques store is tucked between two larger buildings—look for a stone walkway and string lights leading to a bright-red exterior. The store has some Brown County flavor with exposed brick and unfinished wood. You might find handmade knives, vintage suitcases, and clothing and decor with an American Southwest vibe—all made in the United States.1020 Virginia Ave., 737-2656
Vital Skates (5) outfits local roller-derby teams with rad equipment, fun clothes, and $500 boots and wheels, but if you’re just hitting the rink and not other people, you’ll be in the market for “session” skates. After a custom fitting, they’ll last a lifetime. 1022 Virginia Ave., 638-5920, vitalskates.com
Given the absurd presidential election, it was a perfect time for Jimmie Center and his business partner to open the 46-seat Chubby’s Comedy Club (6). Both are Fountain Square natives. “We’ve been shot at, beaten up—now we get to reap the rewards,” he says. 1026 Virginia Ave., 371-7138, chubbyscomedy.com
The all-vegan bath bombs and swirled slabs at Lilly’s Soap Kitchen (7) are perfect for a little relaxing “me time.” There’s even a beer-infused bar. 1028 Virginia Ave., 643-1179, facebook.com/lillyssoapkitchen
The second story of The Murphy Arts Center (8) is not only a rowdy First Friday destination, but the labyrinth of galleries, businesses, and boutiques makes for a game of “I Spy” any day. Can you spot the gargoyles, or the word “forgiveness” written on the wall more than 200 times? New to the floor: Lux & Ivy boutique, previously a fashion truck. 1043 Virginia Ave.
Goodwill’s Vintage Vogue (9) specializes in upscale and retro donations—you just have to look past Precious Moments figurines and ’90s bridesmaids dresses to find them. 1056 Virginia Ave., 999-6725, vintagegw.com
When General Public Collective (10) opened, suddenly iMOCA wasn’t the only place to check out weird art that you’re pretty sure you like. The artist-run gallery hosts exhibitions and live performances along with selling music, zines, and clothes. 1060 Virginia Ave., general-public.us
Fountain Square’s namesake water feature (11) has a tumultuous past. The original, featuring the goddess Hebe, was erected in 1889. After a street merchant accidentally toppled the statue, the mayor commissioned “Pioneer Family” to replace it. That piece moved to Garfield Park in 1954, but public pressure brought it back in 1969. The central fountain was reinstalled in 2009 with another version of Hebe on top, and “Pioneer Family” now sits in a plaza across Virginia Avenue.